E15 Could Help Lower Gas Prices at the Pump

The end of summer is here and with the season change, “summer gasoline” and its Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) requirements will also come to an end. With fall in view retailers who want to offer E15 to their customers may now do so.

“We’re seeing reports and predictions of lower gas prices, with some celebrating the fact that the price is ACElogodown to $3.39 nationwide,” said American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “In the Midwest, where E15, E30, and E85 are more widely available, even E10 prices are already under $3.00 in some markets. Ethanol adds octane and lowers prices because it provides competition for higher priced, lower octane gasoline.”

“E15 brings environmental benefits as well,” continued Lamberty. “Recent studies highlight the reduction in cancer causing emissions offered by E15. E15 means cleaner, higher octane fuel at a lower price and fuel marketers are starting to realize that. Fuel retailers like CHS/Cenex and Protec have taken steps to make E15 available in more markets soon and others will follow.”

Lamberty is encouraging retailers to take note of the growing number of vehicles that can use E15. E15 use is covered under warranty for most cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. for the 2013, 2014, and 2015 model years, and some automakers approve it for 2012 vehicles. That’s 30 million vehicles or more with more vehicles hitting the roads each week that are approved for E15 use.

“This is exactly why Big Oil fights so hard and spends so much time and money to convince EPA and elected officials that the 10% “blend wall” is real, and why they have contract restrictions that prevent branded stations from offering E15.” Lamberty concluded, “It’s not the 5% market share that could be taken by E15 that worries Big Oil – it’s what competition for that 5% does to the prices they can charge for the rest of the gallon. More ethanol means lower prices.”

Boise State’s Biodiesel Truck to Take Its Shot at Salt Flats

greenspeedtruck1As one truck from Utah State University running on biodiesel just finished tearing up the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, another truck from another school out west is out to prove its power running on vegetable oil and biodiesel. Boise State University’s Greenspeed club is looking at breaking the land speed record for its class of truck at Bonneville at more than 215 mph later this month.

“We’re just using vegetable oil as proof of the concept,” said Dave Schenker, mechanical engineering student at Boise State and co-founder of the club. “It’s in its raw state, not even a fuel. Here we are beating petroleum at its own game.”

According to Schenker, their diesel engine has only been modified for power, which is a testament to the value vegetable oil has as a fuel source. When vegetable oil is heated to 175 degrees, it becomes the consistency of regualar fuel, which can then be used with their diesel engine.

However, this isn’t the only fuel source they use. They also run on diesel and a biodiesel, which they hope to start making on their own soon.

“Vegetable oil is not a good fuel for over the road use, which regular people use in their vehicles,” said Patrick Johnston, graduate of Boise State’s mechanical engineering program. “What we really advocate is biodiesel derived from algae.”

The truck has a computer that reads 70 points of contact on the truck between the chassis and engine, allowing the team can see exactly how each fuel type works with the truck to choose the most efficient.

Team members hope to be running on their own algae-biodiesel next year.

Largest 100% Biomass Plant in North America Opens

AtikokanGS1North America’s largest power plant fueled 100 percent by biomass opens in Canada. Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) Atikokan Generating Station (GS) is now operating on biomass after undergoing a massive reconstruction after being a coal-fired plant, and according to Engineering and Technology Magazine, it will be capable of generating about 900 million kW/h of electricity per year – enough for 70,000 homes.

“The conversion of Atikokan will ensure a clean, reliable, sustainable and local supply of electricity for the region,” said Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Energy. “I am very happy to see this facility playing an active role in helping us deliver on the commitments in our Long-Term Energy Plan.”

“Ontario is a leader in green energy production and technology and the conversion, of the Atikokan Generating Station is a great example of innovative new opportunities available in Northern Ontario,” said Bill Mauro, MPP Thunder Bay-Atikokan. “This facility will create and maintain well-paying jobs right here in our community and will contribute to Ontario’s clean energy strategy.”

“Northwestern Ontario is on the leading edge of some very exciting new mining and forestry developments and I am very pleased that our government is taking action to meet the future energy needs of our region,” said Michael Gravelle, MPP, Thunder Bay-Superior North. “This project is not only providing more clean power to Ontarians, it is creating promising new economic opportunities and sustainable jobs for Northwestern Ontario in the green energy and forestry industries.”

Officials say the plant is already running on locally sourced wood pellets.

Ethanol Report: Ethanol Production, RFS & EPA

ethanol-report-adIn this edition of the Ethanol Report, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) president and CEO Bob Dinneen discusses ethanol production for the year so far, new Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) ad campaigns and gives his thoughts on the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations that are under Office of Management and Budget (OMB) review.

In addition, he touches on record corn crop production, on why the food versus fuel debate should end and Quad County Corn Processors cellulosic ethanol production grand opening.

Ethanol Report on Ethanol Production, RFS Food EPA

RFA Calls on EPA to Undo Unfair Fuel Regulations

The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) is calling on Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy to address the unfair fuel volatility regulations that keep the sale and expansion of E15 from occurring. Because E15 does not have the same 1 psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) as E10, the ethanol fuel blend can not be sold during summer months. In a letter to McCarthy, Bob Dinneen, CEO and president of RFA writes that EPA’s failure to put E15 on the same footing as E10 has been a substantial roadblock to the rollout of E15.

According to the letter, “…faced with a hopeless decision every spring: stop selling E15 during the summer volatility control season, or secure the appropriate low-RVP gasoline blendstock. For most retailers, neither of these options are acceptable business decisions.”

RFANewlogoDinneen says the EPA continues to handicap market opportunities for E15 by effectively making it a seasonal fuel. This causes retailers and marketers to be hesitant to invest in a fuel that can only be offered part of the year. “Our biggest frustration is that there is simply no legal or environmental justification for EPA’s unequal volatility treatment of E10 and E15. If the Administration is serious about addressing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping gas prices in check, it should immediately correct this gross inequality,” said Dinneen.

RFA points to the larger implications of the RVP restriction in the letter writing, “Slow market adoption of E15 has unnecessarily complicated compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and led the Agency to embrace the oil industry’s ‘blend wall’ concept in the proposed rule for 2014 Renewable Volume Obligations. The bottom line is that E10 and E15 should be treated consistently in the marketplace with regard to RVP….There is simply no sound technical justification, no air quality benefit, and no economic rationale for denying equal RVP treatment for E15 and E10.”

Lotnisko Wind Farm Contruction Begins in Poland

September 10, 2014 marked the official beginning of construction of the 90 MW Lotnisko wind farm based in Kopaniewo, Poland. It is one of the largest projects in the Polish wind power industry. The ceremony was attended by Marek Woszczyk, PGE Odnawialna S.A1, President of the Board; Maciej Górski, PGE Energia 90 MW Lotnisko wind farm in PolandOdnawialna S.A., President of the Board; Lesław Kuzaj, Alstom, President of the Board; Mirosław Kowalik, Alstom Thermal Power and Renewable Sales and Marketing Director; Alexis de Beaumont, Alstom Renewable Spain, Regional Vice President; and several local officials.

The construction of the Lotnisko wind farm will be conducted by Alstom who was awarded the contract in June 2014. This is the first wind power project implemented by Alstom Poland. The project includes supply, installation and commissioning of 30 Alstom ECO 110 3MW wind turbines, equipped with a 110m diameter rotor, 90m high steel tower and a SCADA2 remote control system. Completion of the wind farm is scheduled for Q 4 of 2015.

“Alstom is proud to contribute to this project, thus confirming our involvement in the development of the wind power sector and the effort to build a sustainable energy mix in Poland,” said Yves Rannou, Senior Vice President of Alstom Wind business.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFScottMadden, Inc., one of North America’s leading energy consulting firms, is joining the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) to lead a group of approximately 25 U.S. energy industry executives to the bellwether energy market of Germany to exchange information with electricity and solar market leaders who are adapting to change in this dynamic and controversial environment. This select group of executives will meet with energy industry peers with the goal of returning with insights and practical knowledge that can be applied to planning and business decisions in the United States. The trip, taking place September 14–18, will feature face-to-face meetings with thought leaders and decision makers from the electric utility, transmission, and renewable energy industries; government, trade, and industry associations; and market experts.
  • The Solar Company has a new partnership with Hall of Fame football player, Ronnie Lott. Lott and his wife Karen had a 26kW system installed on their Bay Area home which helps them save money on electricity while showing their commitment to living a greener life. Lott’s enthusiasm for switching to solar and his positive experience with The Solar Company has led to an endorsement deal.
  • Mainstream Renewable Power has announced the signing of an agreement with Swiss wind farm developer NEK Umwelttechnik to purchase the 225 megawatt (MW) Ayitepa Wind Farm, located 40 kilometres from Accra on the east coast of Ghana. The project, which represents a total investment of USD525 million, is expected to reach financial close next year and start generating power early in 2016. The companies will co-develop the wind farm until financial close. Mainstream will manage the construction as well as the operations and maintenance of the wind farm for its lifecycle. When fully operational the wind farm will generate approximately 10% of Ghana’s total electricity generation capacity which currently stands at 2,000MW.
  • Arthur Kay, the 23-year-old British founder of environmentally sustainable startup bio-bean, has won the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2014. The jury, chaired by Ellen MacArthur, awarded Kay euro 500,000 ($680,000 USD) at the final in Amsterdam to realize his green business plan. Kay’s company uses a patented process to upcycle waste coffee grounds into advanced biofuel products, namely biodiesel and biomass pellets, used for powering buildings and transport systems. Bio-bean is acting in response to the need to produce clean, cheap, local energy while responsibly collecting and disposing of waste.

Brazilian Football Players Create Energy

Brazilian football legend Pele is helping Shell shine a light on the world’s energy future with a first of-its-kind player-powered community football pitch in the heart of aRio de Janeiro favela.

As a real-world example that ideas can come from anywhere, Shell has used the invention of a young entrepreneur to solve a challenge for the Morro da Mineira community. The football pitch, a key part of life for favela residents, was refurbished by Shell using 200 high-tech, underground tiles that capture kinetic energy created by the movement of the players. This energy is then stored and combined with the power generated by solar panels next to the pitch to convert into renewable electricity for the new floodlights, giving everyone in the favela, and especially young people, a safe and secure community space at night.

Pele who joined Shell to officially open the pitch, said, “Football is Brazil’s biggest passion and the sport has gone through so much technological innovation since the last time I played. This new pitch shows the extraordinary things possible when science and sport come together. The Morro da Mineira community will now be able to use this sports facility as a safe gathering place – all thanks to the floodlights powered by the community’s football players.”

The Morro da Mineira project is part of the Shell #makethefuture programme, which aims to inspire young people and entrepreneurs to look at science and engineering as a career choice, and in particular use their minds to develop energy solutions for the future of the planet. The kinetic technology used at this football pitch has been developed by a grant recipient of the UK Shell LiveWIRE. The Morro da Mineira project illustrates how creative ideas delivered through committed partnerships can shape neighbourhoods and transform communities.

“By 2050, the world will be using 75 percent more energy than it does now. Meeting that extra demand will require a set of energy sources – and a new generation of scientists and engineers with the passion, ideas and innovation to develop it,” said Andre Araujo, Shell Brazil Country Chair. “The pitch proves the potential and power when scientists and entrepreneurs focus their efforts to develop creative and innovative energy solutions. By tapping into the world’s passion and interest in football, we aim to capture the attention of youngsters around the world so they think differently about energy and the opportunity of science studies and careers.”

Pedro Veiga, coordinator of the Rio+Social programme of the Instituto Pereira Passos (IPP) added: “To have a project like this on our doorstep will make a real difference to Morro da Mineira. Until it was redeveloped by Shell, the football pitch was largely unusable and many of our young people were being forced to play in the streets. You never know, this example of innovation might even inspire some of the kids to dream of being the nextIsaac Newton!”

Murphy USA Promoting E15, E85 In Iowa

Murphy USA is partnering with Iowa Renewable Fuels Association (IRFA) and the Iowa Corn Growers Association to hold grand openings of E15 and E85 pumps across Iowa. The events will include fuel discounts, door prizes and free food with fuel purchase.

“Iowa motorists will now be able to benefit from increased access to cleaner-burning, lower-cost ethanol blends like registered E15 and E85 at many Murphy USA fueling sites across the state,” said IRFA Managing Director Lucy Norton. “To launch its renewed commitment to homegrown, economical fueling options in Iowa, Murphy USA is also stepping up to offer even greater savings on E15 for 2001 and newer vehicle owners and E85 for flex-fuel vehicle owners during its scheduled grand opening celebrations. Be sure to stop by a Murphy USA location near you to save some of your hard earned money while also improving air quality and supporting Iowa jobs.

During the ethanol fuel events, customers will be able to take advantage of E15 for $2.15 per gallon, E85 for $1.85 per gallon. The Murphy USA locations in Clinton, Davenport, Fort Dodge, Mason City and Sioux City will also offer biodiesel. A list of event dates is below:

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 10.56.03 AM

Norton added, “E15 is the lowest priced fuel available for most Iowans, and E85 is the lowest priced fuel for flex-fuel vehicle owners. Now motorists in seven large Iowa cities will have ready access to fuels that not only burn cleaner, but are also the least expensive fuels on the market for the vast majority of drivers.”

DF Cast: Building Community Solar with No Rooftops

Solar power can be a great, clean choice of energy. But in some places, people, because they live in a shady area or an apartment, just don’t have a good, unshaded roof to have a solar panel. And in those situations, even with utility companies using some solar, it might not be at the level a consumer would like to see. Enter SunShare, who is creating community solar gardens without the rooftops.

In this edition of the Domestic Fuel Cast, we talk with David Amster-Olzewski, founder of SunShare, a community solar projects company based in Colorado, and Nick Kittle, the Performance and Innovation Manager for Adams County, Colorado, just east of Denver, who uses SunShare for his county’s power needs and his own personal living space. They talk about the flexibility SunShare offers to its customers, as well as the savings they see.

It’s a fascinating concept that is working now, and you can hear more about it here: Domestic Fuel Cast - Building Community Solar with No Rooftops

Taiwan Biodiesel Provider Offers Free Biocatalyst

sunhoTaiwan-based Sunho Biodiesel Corp. is offering a free lipase biocatalyst to clients that license and set up a biodiesel plant based on the Sunho’s ET Process®.

When considering a process for industrial production of a commodity, two major criteria are process reliability and cost of consumables. This is where the ET Process® offers distinctive advantages. The design of the ET Process® allows the system to optimize its efficiency. It runs in an automatic, continuous manner. There is no need for the producer to conduct numerous trial-and-error adjustments since it is a well-designed process. The use of inert solvent prevents lipase poisoning and deactivation from glycerol, methanol and water and stabilizes lipase activity. Due to the improvement in life span, the catalyst does not have to be replaced frequently, leading to significant catalyst cost savings. From recent market data, it was found that the lipase consumption of enzymatic processes that use either immobilized or liquid lipase without inert solvent is one order of magnitude higher than that of the ET Process®. Based on a plant with a capacity of 10,000 T/yr biodiesel, the former processes will consume more than 12-20 T/yr of biocatalyst, while the ET Process® will consume only 1 T/y or less. This means that in a two-year span, the cost difference in lipase expense between retrofitting an existing plant using the aforementioned processes and using the ET Process® is much higher than the capital investment needed to set up a new ET Process® plant.

Sunho is offering the biocatalyst to biodiesel plants that will have a capacity of at least 5,000 tonnes/yr based on degummed oil. The biocatalyst will be supplied for the first 18 months or in 3 batches, depending on which one comes first.

Fuels America Thanks Biofuels Supporter Sen Harkin

As Iowa Senator Tom Harkin prepares to retire, Fuels America is thanking him for his unwavering and tireless support of biofuels with a full-page advertisement in the Sunday, September 14, 2014 Des Moines Register and on Iowa radio. Sen. Harkin will be holding his final steak fry with Secretary Hilary Clinton, who is the keynote speaker. During the event he plans on taking the opportunity to update Clinton on biofuels progress across Iowa and the country.

“We’re grateful to Senator Harkin for his leadership, and proud to welcome Secretary Hillary Clinton to Iowa for the last Harkin Streak Fry,” says Fuels America’s radio ads that began running on Wednesday and will continue through Sunday on stations throughout the Des Moines area. “As one great Iowa tradition ends, another is growing.”

Fuels America Harkin-Clinton AdThe ads note that Iowa has doubled renewable fuels production since 2007, and that the Iowa renewable fuels industry now supports over 73,000 jobs. The ads go on to appeal to Clinton’s experience as Secretary of State, noting that she knows the danger that America’s addiction to foreign oil poses to our national security, economic security, and energy security. Instability in Ukraine and Iraq has recently created even more uncertainty in an already tumultuous global oil market, and America’s reliance on foreign oil has left us at the mercy of hostile and unstable foreign actors.

The advertisements come as President Obama is giving final consideration to this year’s final rule on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which will determine the extent to which renewable fuels will be allowed to compete with foreign oil in our fuel supply. At the same time, Secretary Clinton’s arrival in Iowa marks the beginning of a larger national dialogue on the future of renewable energy sources.

Genera Energy Introduces BIN-SPEC

Genera Energy has introduced a new feedstock management program module to reduce biomass feedstock variability: BIN-SPEC. According to the company, the preprocessing system delivers a consistent biomass product to a customer’s specifications with the least amount of variability and at a lower cost.

“After producing and harvesting a biomass crop, significant processes and steps must take place to convert a field crop into a uniform format feedstock with the exact size, chemical composition and moisture to meet the needs of each end user,” explained Kelly Tiller, Ph.D., CEO and president of Genera Energy. “We are now able to announce BIN-SPEC as the final link in our proprietary biomass supply chain management system.”

Genera-BIN_SPEC-Graphic-300x171Along with Genera’s other feedstock management systems, Energy Grange and Supply ASSURE, BIN-SPEC was developed through years of R&D and in-the-field testing aimed at consolidating and simplifying the entire biomass feedstock process, offering benefits to landowners, farmers and feedstock end users for the biofuels, biochemical and biopower industries.

While much research has focused on feedstock specific conversion technologies, Genera Energy noticed a gap in the study and field tests of biomass particle size during the preprocessing phase and as a result, developed BIN-SPEC to address this and other problems, offering a repeatable solution that reduces costs, increases efficiencies and provides a consistent product for end users.

Genera’s BIN-SPEC preprocessing management system looks at every step before, during and after preprocessing for each specific end user, assuring a tailored feedstock product specifically for use with BIN-SPEC designated equipment that will produce a biomass product with the least variation. While preprocessing biomass feedstocks is not new, Genera has focused on improving the process by reducing energy consumption, increasing efficiencies, and optimizing the process. This optimization ultimately leads to a lower cost, more consistent feedstock for the end user.

Keith Brazzell, Genera Energy COO notes that variation in feedstock product can be a costly problem for refineries. That was why BIN-SPEC was developed – to add value to a customer’s conversion process.

Pico Solar & Solar Home Systems to Top $2.1B

According to Navigant Research global market share for miniature solar photovoltaic systems, including pico solar and solar home systems, will grow from $538 million in 2014 to more than $2.1 billion in 2024. These systems are moving rapidly from specialized niches for solar enthusiasts and early adopters into the mainstream. They are particularly well suited for applications in the developing world where the provide lighting, cell phone charging and power for small direct current (DC) appliances in areas where the grid is unreliable or nonexistent.

Pico Solar System“Although the majority of solar consumer product activity is, for now, in developing regions of the world, similar products are also emerging in the developed world in the form of solar PV generators and kits,” said Dexter Gauntlett, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “NRG’s recent acquisition of Goal Zero exemplifies the growing interest in the sector among major corporations, with more acquisitions and strategic partnerships likely to follow.”

According to the report, in the developing world pico solar systems are providing new alternatives for people who previously had no choice but to pay high prices for low-quality and polluting fuel-based lighting, such as kerosene lamps. In addition to providing inadequate illumination, kerosene lamps pose significant health risks. The spread of pico solar systems gives these communities access to compact, clean, and affordable off-grid lighting and other electric devices.

The report, “Solar Photovoltaic Consumer Products”, analyzes the emerging global market for solar PV consumer products. It focuses on pico solar products and solar home systems, but also analyzes growth opportunities and key players for solar PV generators and kits. The report examines the distinct market issues for each product type in both developed and developing countries, including drivers and barriers, business models, and pricing trends.

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFRenewable Energy Group, Inc. Chief Financial Officer Chad Stone will become the next chair of the Iowa Biodiesel Board. Stone, who has served on Iowa Biodiesel Board’s nine member executive board of directors since 2010, was officially be named to the post Friday at the board’s annual meeting.
  • Sun Starter, a residential lead generation company in the solar industry, is now offering the ability for company’s to enter into exclusive contracts for these leads.
  • Hitachi, Ltd. has announced that as of October 1, 2014, it will establish a new Energy Solutions Business Management Division as a front engineering (technical sales) organization under the direct jurisdiction of the president. This new Division will provide optimum solutions in a one-stop format – from power generation to power distribution and end-user systems – for the power systems market. The Energy Solutions Business Management Division will collaborate with the Power Systems Company and other Hitachi entities to provide the best solutions to a variety of stakeholders.
  • CSR is hosting a free webinar, “Tracking Renewable Energy for the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Guidelines for States to Use Existing REC Tracking Systems to Comply with 111(d),” on Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 11:00 am PT. The webinar will explain how existing renewable energy certificate (REC) tracking systems can be used as an integral part of state compliance for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. These REC tracking systems, together with state policies designed to increase the production and use of renewable electricity, will be critical to states looking to use renewable energy like wind and solar to reduce the carbon intensity of their power sector. This webinar will be invaluable for air and electricity regulators, as well as renewable energy advocates who are interested in participating in the Clean Air Act Section 111(d) comment period, closing October 16, 2014.